Forum attendees oppose self-consumption levy

Politics and the policy hurdles to solar in Germany again dominated discussions on the second day of the 14th Forum Solarpraxis in Berlin today.

Representatives of the solar industry opposed the imposition of a levy on self-consumption of solar energy, a proposal being considered by both the CDU and SPD parties as talks continue to thrash out a grand coalition federal government for Germany.

As the forum went into the afternoon of its final day, solar representatives called for the proposed levy to be scrapped to prevent it stifling the fast-growing self consumption market in Germany, or at least to exempt the smallest household installations from such a charge.

Volker Quaschning, of HTW Berlin university, said that, as part of the necessary political framework to support solar in Germany, the 52 GW cap on grid connected solar imposed by the government must be removed.

Dr Quaschning said that for Germany to achieve an ambitious aim of 100% renewable energy, 200 GW of solar would be needed by 2040. Also, added Dr Quaschning, 8 GW per year of solar installations will be required if Germany is to meet the ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets announced by government representatives at the UN’s COP 19 conference of parties climate change summit in Warsaw this week.

Rainer Brohm, of German federal solar industry association the BSW, called for the significant administrative hurdles to local distribution of solar to be removed by the authorities.

The local, small scale distribution model whereby local generators sell power to nearby homes on small scale grids is a promising one but faces too many hurdles at present, said Brohm. Permitting, taxation and registration costs must be removed he said while echoing the widely heard sentiment at the forum that storage system costs also need to be reduced through R&D, to make such a business model viable.

There was widespread agreement to the notion storage costs need to be reduced below their current €1,000/kW (US$1,350/kW) level.

There was also a widespread consensus in Berlin that solar needs to realise its potential in Germany, a country with 55 million balconies that could be upgraded with solar systems and with many millions more rooftops that could accommodate solar.

Part of realising that potential involves the industry successfully communicating the potential of solar to the public and attendees at the forum agreed it was imperative solar associations up their game regarding communications strategy.